Defense edges offense in Bucs spring gameApril 9, 2006
by CSU Sports Information
|CSU head coach Jay Mills|
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Offense has dominated most of Charleston Southern's 2006 spring practice but that all changed during Saturday's annual Blue-White spring game, played at Buccaneer Stadium before several hundred fans.
CSU's defense did not allow an offensive touchdown and out-pointed the offense, 41-32, to win the spring game. The defense, awarded points for turnovers, forced fourth downs, tackles for loss and sacks, allowed some yardage but only four field goals in the two-hour scrimmage.
"If you looked at all of the scrimmages together, the offense was a little more productive overall but today the defense really put things together," said CSU head coach Jay Mills. "If you only looked at today, you might be concerned about the offense but taking the entire spring as a whole, we're right where we want to be.
"The fact that our defense showed up strong today is a reflection of the competitiveness we have on this team. As a coach, we certainly would prefer balance between offense and defense and we saw that during this spring."
All of the points scored offensively came off the feet of place kickers Nick Ellis and Hart Pearson. Pearson connected on field goals of 52 and 51 yards while Ellis hit from 31 and 27 yards.
"I thought we showed great promise in the special teams area today," said Mills. "Nick and Hart have competed all spring and it was evident today that we have two very solid place kickers. I also thought we did some nice things in the return game so it was a pretty good day for the special teams."
The offense committed two turnovers, both on interceptions by defensive back Darius Jackson. The Bucs totaled less than 100 yards in total rushing, factoring in lost yardage on sacks and tackles for loss, and compiled 270 yards passing.
Senior Collin Drafts, the starting quarterback, did not play during the second-half and finished with 11 completions in 25 attempts for 101 yards. Drafts also rushed for 32 yards on four carries.
Two players competing for the nod as the backup, redshirt sophomore Sidney Bryant and redshirt freshman Eli Byrd, saw significant action during the game. Bryant completed 13-of-22 passes for 117 yards while Byrd completed five-of-11 for 44 yards.
Redshirt freshman Alexius Ferguson was the top rusher among the running backs with 25 yards on seven carries. Last year's leading rusher, Andre Copeland, did not participate in the scrimmage. Junior Kenny Harper saw his first contact of the spring during the game, gaining 14 yards on six carries, including a 12-yard run.
"Kenny is still trying to fully recover from the injury he sustained in 2004 and today was promising," said Mills. "I think we've established some pretty solid depth at the running back position during the spring."
Depth is also evident among CSU's receiving corps. Junior Maurice Price, a Division I-AA All-American candidate, caught six passes for 61 yards, all in the first half. Sophomore Bryant Burch caught six passes for 50 yards and freshman Tim Jones had seven receptions for 50 yards. Senior Drew Rucks totaled 39 yards on three receptions.
"Rucks had a very good spring and made some nice catches today," said Mills. "Our depth at receiver is as good as it has ever been here.
In addition to Jackson's heroics in the secondary, other strong performances defensively were turned in by linebackers Jada Ross and Jonna Lee, defensive ends Stoney Randolph and Tyrese Harris and defensive back Juwan Lawson.
Now into his fourth season, Mills says the program is finally reaching an area of comfortable depth and experience.
"We finally have some upperclassmen and a much better balance from our freshmen class to our senior class and that's not something we had during the first three years," said the coach. "The maturity factor cannot be underestimated. We now have a group of players who are into their fourth year with the same offensive and defensive systems. They have a great work ethic, great leadership, and we've made great advancements in the weightroom.
"I'm very pleased but at the same time cautiously optimistic. I think we're headed in the right direction and I truly believe our best days are ahead of us. It's important now that we recognize our potential as a program and put forth the necessary work between now and August to become as good a football team as we can be."
Following the spring game, festivities were moved into the CSU field house for a barbeque lunch. The 2005 team also was honored with the presentation of the Big South Conference championship rings as well as the Big South All-Conference selections.
CSU Spring Football Awards
Most Improved Defensive Line - Brandon Horton
Most Improved Defensive Back - Juwan Lawson
Most Improved Linebacker - Travis Jefferson
Most Improved Special Teams - Hart Pearson
Most Improved Running Back - Alexius Ferguson
Most Improved Offensive Line - Alex Bragg
Most Improved Quarterback - Sidney Bryant
Most Improved Receiver - Drew Rucks
Most Improved Tight End - Clayton Coffman
Edward A. Gadson Memorial Scholarship Recipient - Darius Jackson